Generally, seasoned reptile owners are used to seeing their crested gecko change color and understand that crested gecko turning pale is a normal thing. However, for a novice owner this can be more than a trivial matter. So this article is focused on guiding crested gecko owners (especially novice ones) about the reasons behind crested gecko turning pale and whether you should be concerned.
However, first, let’s briefly discuss how crested geckos normally look.
How Crested Geckos Look Naturally?
Crested geckos are unique animals in that they do not have specific colors or patterns. In fact, they are found in various colors and patterns; and these colors or patterns are named morphs.
Crested geckos can change their color during different phases of their lives. Even your crested gecko of any particular age or color can change its color due to certain factors, and turning pale is one such morph. This morph variation ranges from creamy or very pale to dark grey or black patterns. However, crested geckos don’t have pigments to produce blue, green, or purple morphs, so you rarely find a crested gecko exhibiting these shades. If you are lucky enough, the only morph you may find (near these shades) is olive green.
What Causes Crested Geckos To Turn Pale?
Let’s look into 5 factors that makes crested geckos turn pale.
Unlike other vertebrates, skin of reptiles (including crested geckos) doesn’t grow with their body. So, all reptiles (including crested geckos) have to replace older skin with new one many times in their lives as they grow. This phenomenon of replacing old skin with new skin is termed shedding.
In addition, turning pale a few days before shedding is as natural as shedding itself. So you can also take it as an indication that your pet crested gecko is going to shed within next few days and can make necessary arrangements. Most crested geckos attain their normal color within a few days after shedding.
When you first notice your crested gecko turning pale, monitor him continuously because shedding must start within next few days. If shedding doesn’t begin soon, the pale coloration may be due to some other reason.
2. Changes In Environmental Or Habitat
The changes in environment are the most common factors making crested gecko turn pale or fired up. Temperature, humidity, and time of the day are the common factors responsible for this color variation. While searching habitat requirements of a crested gecko, you may have read that these lizards generally need moderate temperature (72 – 75 0F) but higher humidity (60 % during the day and 80 % during the night). Since crested geckos are sensitive to environmental changes, any variation (above or below) from these levels can turn your crested lizard pale.
In addition, crested geckos are usually pale during the day and fired up in the evening. Though it is not clearly understood why this happens, most reptile experts believe that crested geckos are relaxed during the day because they are at their safe places and spend most of their time sleeping. While during the night, they are active and need to camouflage themselves to avoid being predated.
3 Changes In The Mood
A crested gecko’s body color can also be taken as a representation of its mood or emotional state. This is so because these lizards generally change their body color with their mood. Generally, when a crested gecko is happy, relaxed, and content, it turns paler or duller in color. On the other hand, if your crestie is disturbed, stressed, or scared, it usually turns darker in color. This phenomenon of turning paler and darker colors is termed fired down and fired up, respectively.
Generally, your crestie remains pale in color if you maintain environmental conditions within the recommended range. However, any unnecessary or unwanted changes in the habitat, lack of sleep, traveling, and too much of rough handling can make your crestie stressed, and is more likely to turn dark.
4 Pale Coloration With Age
It is really difficult to predict what color your crestie will look like as an adult. Generally, baby crested geckos undergo a lot of color variations before reaching their age of maturity. During the first few months of their lives, cresties are generally on the darker side and gradually turn pale as their age increases. As they complete the first year of their lives, they attain their final color and maintain it for the rest of their lives. However, they may turn paler or darker temporarily at any time, forced by the factors discussed above. In addition, as cresties enter old age, they gradually begin to gain pale color.
5 Your Crestie Is Sick
All the above mentioned factors are natural cause, and every crested gecko exhibits such behavior. However, in very rare cases, it is possible that your crestie is pale due to sickness or some underlying disease. In such cases, your crested gecko will also display additional signs like lack of appetite, fatigue, etc.
Crested geckos exhibit a lot of color variation. They change body color many times (from darker to pale or creamy) during their journey from childhood to maturity. Even adult crested geckos (who have attained their final body color) can turn pale. Generally, crested geckos turn pale when
- they are about to shed
- at a temperature higher than optimal range, or
- when they are relaxed, contented, and sleeping
As a crestie’s owner, you don’t need to worry because most of the time, it’s perfectly normal and natural in a crested gecko’s world.